Tuesday, 9 April 2013

'Ear at last!!!

Male Blackcap gets the ball rolling...
Ear ear! Finally some summer migrants!
Chiffchaff fresh in off the sea - rare!

Tuesday 9th April comments: They’re ‘ear at last!!!! Finally, after weeks of waiting, we had our first summer migrants of the year!

It’s been tough so far this year, with bitterly cold weather blocking spring migration and a hard winter for our seabirds too. However, we have been open to the public in recent days and it’s been great to share the islands with people once again! The Puffins were back in force on the islands and everyone has been getting their fill of our most colourful crowd pleaser.

A big part of life on the Farnes is recording the migrant birds that pass through the islands and it’s been slim pickings of late. So today, after weeks of waiting, we finally got our first taste of the magic of migration. Late evening the first Blackcap of the year was discovered, stopping on the Farnes on its way to northern breeding grounds. Within twenty minutes, another two migrants came out of nowhere!

A cracking male Wheatear was found feeding amongst the Puffin burrows on the island, having returned to the UK after spending the winter in sub-Saharan Africa! In a normal year, we would have recorded our first Wheatear in late March. So after a long wait and a sigh of relief, we delved into the old records to get some stats! The 9th of March represents the latest arrival date for this species since…….. 1977!!!! That’s 36 years since a Wheatear was found as late as this!

The cherry on the cake came as the team were watching the male Wheatear and the first Chiffchaff of the year flew in off the sea and starting feeding out in the open on the cliff face! A great moment after waiting what has felt like an age for some signs of summer!

With some southerly winds forecast for the end of the week, more migrants may be on the cards; hopefully they’ll bring some warmer weather with them too! Until then, stay tuned to Planet Farnes and eyes to the skies!!!

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